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Aircraft Clearance Beacons on Campus

The local FAA office for this area is in Leesburg, call (540)786-5491. The Airway Facilities Sector office is at Weyers Cave (Shenandoah Valley Airport) (540)234-8585.

There are redundant lights on each fixture of the Soccer Field light towers. When one fails, the other automatically kicks in and takes over. Public Television station WVPT-TV (434-5391) at the Port Road entrance to campus has a microwave tower is equipped with red lights for hours of darkness and white strobes for daylight. The soccer field lights are the red lens covered conventional non-strobe lamp type and are only illuminated at night. The same is true for the marker beacons on top of the high standards in the large parking lot (R-1) next to the baseball field.

The following is from Chapter 2 Part 20 of the Aeronautical Information Manual, Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures, AOPA Air Safety Foundation:

    OBJECTS TO BE MARKED AND LIGHTED. Any temporary or permanent object, including all appurtenances, that exceeds an overall height of 200 feet (61m) above ground level (AGL) or exceeds any obstruction standard contained in FAR Part 77, Subpart C, should normally be marked and/or lighted. However, an FAA aeronautical study may reveal that the absence of marking and/or lighting will not impair aviation safety. CONVERSELY, the object may present such an extraordinary hazard potential that higher standards may be recommended for increased conspicuity to ensure safety to air navigation. Normally outside commercial lighting is not considered sufficient reason to omit recommended marking and/or lighting. The FAA may also recommend marking and/or lighting a structure that does not exceed 200 feet AGL or Subpart C standards BECAUSE OF ITS PARTICULAR LOCATION.

    I would recommend equipping such a tower with aviation obstruction lights due to the proximity of Rockingham Memorial Hospital's helipad, regularly used by medevac carriers such as Pegasus and Medstar. Most if not all of our campus is within the approach and departure paths of the helicopters utilizing the RMH helipad. In addition to that, with an active Army ROTC presence on campus we are subject to periodic military missions incorporating rotor wing aircraft approaches and departures to/from various locations on campus. We also are subject to other helicopter irregular flights to/from campus.

    The specified illumination is outlined in Section 2, AIR NAVIGATION AND OBSTRUCTION LIGHTING, in Chapter 2 Part 20 of the Aeronautical Information Manual, Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures, AOPA Air Safety Foundation:

    2-2-3. OBSTRUCTION LIGHTS

    1. Obstructions are marked/lighted to warn airmen of their presence during daytime and nighttime conditions. They may be marked/lighted in any of the following combinations:

      1. Aviation Red Obstruction Lights: Flashing aviation red beacons and steady burning aviation red lights during nighttime operation. Aviation orange and white paint is used for daytime marking.

      2. High Intensity White Obstruction Lights: Flashing high intensity white lights during daytime with reduced intensity for twilight and nighttime operation. When this type system is used, the marking of structures with red observation lights and aviation orange and white paint may be omitted.

      3. Dual Lighting: A combination of flashing aviation red beacons and steady burning aviation red lights for nighttime operation and flashing high intensity white lights for daytime operation. Aviation orange and white paint may be omitted.

      When erecting towers on campus, no matter whether or not equipped with obstruction lights, we must notify the local Flight Service Station of the FAA as well as our campus ROTC contingent. As far as where to erect such a tower, common sense would dictate that it be at least twice the distance in feet of the height of the tower from the nearest building, roadway, parking lot, place of assembly, especially with the torsional forces extant with helicopter "rotor wash" from the rotating blades.


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